This is it! After 11 weeks of intense competition on Dancing With the Stars, it all came down to the final three! On Tuesday, November 22, the remaining celebs wrapped up season 23, and Us Weekly covered every major moment. (Goes without saying but "spoiler alert!")
Check out our by-the-minute recap of the highlights for Laurie Hernandez, James Hinchcliffe and Calvin Johnson. And start at the bottom if you want to get it in chronological order.
11:00 p.m. ET: The winning couple was announced, and it was Laurie and Val! "I just want to thank everyone for the support and riding along this crazy roller coaster," Laurie said. Val said, "To all the kids out there, you don't have to wait until you're grown-up to change the world." James said he was proud of Sharna for all the hard work she did to make it look like he knew how to dance.
Then Laurie and Val took their Mirrorball Trophy as confetti blasted everywhere.
10:57 p.m. ET: Jana Kramer performed her song "Circles" while a montage of the best moments of the final three from the season played on screen. After the song ended, Erin and Tom revealed a cameraman had fallen on the slippery floor and was recouping behind the giant Christmas tree. (Hmm, OK.)
Next up, Erin and Tom revealed that the couple in third place was Calvin and Lindsay. (While that was hardly a surprise to anyone who had watched the show, it was sad just the same.) Erin took the chance to fangirl over the NFL player a little more while Lindsay and Calvin hugged.
10: 50 p.m. ET: Finally it was Laurie and Val's turn to perform their final dance. Laurie was sad it was coming to an end, but they were both all smiles as they performed their fusion of fox-trot and Argentine tango. They also took full advantage of Laurie's athletic skills and had her flipping all over the dance floor. Bruno told Laurie she was a "spectacular" dancer and praised her for having grown into a "great performer." Carrie Ann called it Laurie's "best dance ever"; the judge added that if she ever had a daughter, she hoped she would be like Laurie.
"A fabulous dance to close a fabulous season," Len opined. Then he said he was old and tired and just wanted to know who won. Julianne echoed Len saying she was "so nervous" to find out who won. Tom then announced that Laurie was joining the Dancing With the Stars tour to cheers and applause. Oh, they also got a perfect 40.
10:39 p.m. ET: It was then Lindsay and Calvin's turn to take their final spin on the dance floor. Calvin reflected on the fact that last Thanksgiving he was playing football, and now he was dancing a quickstep and jive. They worked a few seconds of Calvin's 2-year-old son into the video package because he was probably the cutest kid anyone has ever seen.
As for their actual dance, they too nailed it. Julianne called it "the perfect fusion dance," and Bruno praised Calvin's "charm." Carrie Ann told Calvin he had "an X factor" and "just made the world a better place" when he danced. Len said he loved watching it and told Calvin he was "great." Tom then reminded Calvin that his sister had said he couldn't dance and suggested that at Thanksgiving he give her a "big serving of crow." They too earned a perfect 40.
10:34 p.m. ET: Finally it was time for the 24-hour fusion dances. Footage showed James gifting Sharna with a special racing jacket as a thank you for all of her help in helping him complete his story. Then they performed an elegant routine that combined Viennese waltz and fox-trot. Len Goodman told James, "I wish I could dance like you," and Julianne Hough said, "I wish I could dance with you." Bruno Tonioli called James a "class act," and Carrie Ann said James danced like he was in a "fairy tale." Then got perfect 10s across the board.
10:20 p.m. ET: Next up was a dance by a bunch of the troupe members that served as a giant advertisement for the Dancing With the Stars tour. Then they decided it was time to get back to the actual business of the night — namely, finding out who would win the Mirrorball prize. The judges all weighed in on each of the final three's strengths and weaknesses.
Calvin's strength was his size and power, which was also his weakness. (When something was out of place, like a foot, for example, the judges know!) James was dubbed a total showman, but his smaller stature (when compared to Calvin) was a challenge. As for Laurie, she was tiny and powerful, but sometimes the judges craved more nuance.
10:10 p.m. ET: Marilu Henner and Terra Jole took center stage for a routine to yet another Christmas song. They were really pushing the Christmas theme. Terra reunited with Sasha for the number, but Derek Hough wasn't by Marilu's side.
They revisited the semifinals and made fun of how weird Sasha looked covered in fake tattoos. Then they showed Terra and Sasha's emotional goodbye, and Tom introduced an "amazing" dance "choreographed by the amazing Mandy Moore" (no, not the This Is Us star) and brought to viewers by Macy's. (ICYMI, holiday season = shopping season.)
10:04 p.m. ET: Then it was time for some more shirtless male dancers. James, Calvin and Ryan danced to Bruno Mars' "24K Magic" with the male troupe dancers while Erin watched with pure delight. (She was really on a roll this evening.)
Next came a flashback to Sasha Farber proposing to Emma Slater (which was pretty awesome), followed by quick overviews of "most memorable year" night and Latin night. Jana and Gleb then kept the unofficial theme of the night going (the theme was sex, just in case that wasn't clear) by performing a routine that started in a bed and ended with both of them soaking wet from a shower. "Save water: Shower with a friend!" Tom declared.
9:53 p.m. ET: Maksim was back in the ballroom right after the break, reprising his dance with Val and Laurie. Halfway through, Maks stopped dancing to take Laurie's hair down (so she could whip it around, no doubt), but he struggled with it a bit. Ultimately, he did get it down, and then the routine ended with Maks and Val dancing with each other a bit — which was actually pretty awesome.
Viewers then learned that Vanilla Ice hadn't only befriended Ryan Lochte this season, but also had become close with Rick Perry. (Uh … what?) In any case, Vanilla Ice hit the stage to perform his famous song, while Perry "performed" as DJ. (Remember when the people in politics and the people in reality TV were different?)
Erin asked Rick what was more thrilling — performing with Vanilla Ice or attending his "big meeting" with Donald Trump the day before. He opted for "no comment," prompting Erin to try to force him to say performing with Ice was better.
After a quick montage showing the Dancing With the Stars cast visiting children in the hospital, Felicia Barton performed while Jenna Johnson and Artem danced. Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds took the stage next, accompanied by a group of troupe dancers. They both performed Christmas songs, so apparently Erin was right that this finale kicked off the holiday season.
9:36 p.m. ET: Erin creepily danced around with a bunch of shirtless male Santas, prompting Tom Bergeron to note that this version of her routine was far more "family-friendly" than whatever had happened during dress rehearsal. (Yikes.)
In the theme of "barely safe for the kids," Lindsay and Calvin then took the stage with a steamy routine set to "Hotel California." They incorporated a lot of impressive lifts that showcased Lindsay's never-ending legs, prompting Tom to call her "the human windmill."
Then came a montage showing superfan and former contestant (who was eliminated earlier this season) Maureen McCormick. She took the stage with Artem Chigvintsev for a final dance. What she lacked in dance skills, she made up for with unbridled enthusiasm.
Next up was a segment called "Behind the Glitter," where Tom and Erin gave viewers a little peek into the rehearsals. Perhaps most interesting was the fact that since the judges don't arrive until the actual show, random people (probably from the production crew or something of the like) stand in during rehearsal to hold up perfect-10 paddles.
Finally, it was time for more dancing, courtesy of Maksim Chmerkovskiy. It was a quick, sassy number that suited him perfectly.
9:22 p.m. ET: James and Sharna performed their paramour-themed quickstep again. Sharna looked ridiculously hot dressed in an outfit reminiscent of Jessica Rabbit, while he looked a little geeky in a top hat and tails.
They revisited the night when Ryan Lochte was ambushed on stage by protesters, and showed Vanilla Ice telling the swimmer he was "a hero"; footage also showed Rick Perry and Emma Slater getting eliminated. (For the most part, Rick was shown in a positive light, even though his dancing was indisputably atrocious.)
Next up, former contestant Andy Grammer performed his song "Fresh Eyes," while his former partner Allison Holker danced with Keo Motsepe. Allison and Andy were clearly thrilled to be reunited, albeit briefly.
9:14 p.m. ET: The show was live from The Grove in Los Angeles, and opened with a dance number featuring all the eliminated contestants from earlier in the season, plus the three remaining finalists. All of the female dancers were dressed like sexy Santas, and Erin Andrews announced that the night marked "the start of the holiday season."
Then they cut back to highlights from last night reminding viewers just how great the last three standing stars truly are. As they went to commercial, Erin danced awkwardly on the platform and reminded viewers why, uh, she didn't win when she had competed.
8 p.m. ET: For the first time in the ABC competition show's history, all three finalists are athletes. At the top of the leaderboard after November 21's performance episode is Olympic gymnast Laurie Hernandez with her partner, Val Chmerkovskiy — but they hardly have it in the bag. Just one point behind them are race car driver James Hinchcliffe and pro Sharna Burgess, who have continued to wow the judges all season, despite Sharna's brief hiatus with a knee injury.
Rounding out the final trio is former NFL player Calvin Johnson with Lindsay Arnold. Though they are a few points behind the others, Calvin's bubbly personality and dazzling smile has charmed not only the judges all season long, but also America.
In other words, the Mirrorball Trophy is anyone's trophy to take. Only one star can follow in season 22 winner Nyle DiMarco's footsteps, however. The couples are set to perform their final dances of the season in anticipation of finding out who won the top prize, and Us has you covered. Be sure to refresh this post throughout the event for all the details!
Dancing With the Stars' season 23 finale airs on ABC Tuesday, November 22, at 9 p.m. ET.
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